Thursday, March 19, 2009

Who is librarian love, please?

The Magician's Elephant

DiCamillo, Kate. The Magician's Elephant. Candlewick. Fall 2009.

So Kate DiCamillo. So wonderfully worded. So many characters. Boy is told that his sister is alive by a fortune teller. AND he will be led to her by an elephant. This is not set in an area where elephants are. Let's believe it will come true. And it does. Fast read. Kids will love it! Once again, so Kate!

Anytime, Anywhere: a Little Boy's Prayer by Marcus Hummon, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Francer

A picture book story of a boy saying his goodnight prayers to his father. All kids try to delay their bedtime and the child in this story does it by including anyone and any thing he can think of into his blessing. It turns into a thoughtful discussion between father and son about God and prayer in general. The text is lengthy, however. Regardless, this is a pleasant story that doesn't try to hit you too hard over the head (yes, I did feel it slightly in a few spots0.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Fiesta Dress by Caren McNelly McCormack, illustrated by Martha Aviles Junco

A good sibling rivalry picture book which also incorporates the quinceanera tradition. Lolo is usually the center of attention, but not on her sister's quinceanera day. She accidentally sets in motion a potential disaster by letting the dog out to play. Of course, she fixes everything and her older sister makes her a special part of the party. One thing confused me. I always thought it was one tamal, two tamales. This author uses the word tamale, which I've always been told isn't actually a word.

Tough Chicks by Cece Meng, illustrated by Melissa Suber

"From the moment Mama Hen's eggs burst open, she knew she was dealing with some pretty tough chicks." And so begins this tale of three wonderfully non-conforming chicks. All the other barnyard animals think Penny, Polly and Molly need to be docile and peck and chirp like good little chickens. No, they would rather swing from the cow's tail, roll in mud and figure out the inner workings of a tractor. And as you can probably guess, the farmer gets into a big mess and it is the 3 wild chicks who must rescue the animals and fix the tractor. Obviously this is a book showing girls in non traditional roles, but it is not heavy handed. Older preschool and young elementary is the perfect audience.

Unexpected Treasures by Victoria Osteen, illustrated by Diane Palmisciano

I was sort of determined not to like this book from the start, and I was not disappointed. Yes, her husband has quite a way with words, but Victoria does not. I guess it's a story about pirates, or at least children pretending to be pirates. It tries to cram way too many messages about friendship and Christianity into a picture book. Yes, Victoria knows end rhyme but this rhyming book has no scansion whatsoever. The text doesn't bounce, it bumps and it is nearly impossible to read aloud. Dr. Suess she ain't. It will sell well, of that I can be sure.

Wee Little Lamb by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by John Butler

A short, sweet story of a shy lamb who cannot be convinced to play, sing or explore by any of the animals in the field. No, this lamb only hides behind his mama. He is coaxed out by a shy mouse and together they play, near both their mamas. Not much meat to the story, but the illustrations in pastel colors are lovely. Good for those shy ones who you only see peeking around their own mamas.

Auntie Tiger by Laurence Yep, illustrated by insu Lee

A Little Red Riding Hood tale set in China. When their mother leaves the house, a tiger disguises himself as the aunt of the two little girls left at home. The older sister is wise to his tricks, but the younger sister lets him in, and, of course, gets eaten. Although the tiger has sharp teeth, the drawings are certainly not menacing. Lacking in rhythm, this will still be popular with young picture book listeners.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

North of Beautiful

Headley, Justina Chen. North of Beautiful. Little, Brown and Company: Books for Young Readers. 2009. ARC ISBN: 0-316-03317-0

Terra has tried everything possible to get rid of the large port wine birthmark on her cheek. She is perfect in every other way. North of Beautiful is a coming into your own kind of story. Terra’s father still angry over a botched map discovery makes his wife and daughter the scapegoats for his perceived failure. After a trip to China with an adopted Chinese boy and his mom, both Terra and her mom begin to peel away the layers of insulation so they might live as they have dreamed. Mom stands up to Dad by refusing to be bullied. Terra faces her fear of being shun because of the birthmark. There is a bit of romance, a parallel drawn between Terra and Jason’s “defects” and the family dynamics are believable. Not a page turner but a solid read for young adults.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Skeleton Creek

Carman, Patrick. Skeleton Creek. Scholastic. ARC ISBN: 978-0-545-07566-4
Sarah and Ryan are best friends who are on an adventure—the thriller, scary kind. Ryan is a writer; Sarah likes to shoot video. They have questions after exploring the town’s sledge which has long been closed. Why is their small town called Skeleton Creek now? Does the tattoo on Ryan’s dad provide a clue to the phantom, ghost, person at the sledge? Does everyone know the truth except Ryan and Sarah? The reader of Skeleton Creek will want a computer close by! Turning a page in the book will lead one to grab the computer from whoever may be using it at the time because the reader will have to see Sarah’s video—right then! A password is given for each video on Sarah’s website so you can witness the same eeriness, anxiousness and hair-raising twist. Reader, beware—the end is another mystery!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Strawberry Hill by Mary Ann Hoberman

Hoberman, Mary Ann. Strawberry Hill. Little, Brown and Company: Books for Young Readers. ARC ISBN: 978-0-316-04324-3

When Allie’s father takes a job in another town, she is not looking forward to a new school and new friends. She likes her life just the way it is. Old-fashioned stereo-typical families and values are evident. She struggles with finding the true meaning of friendship on Strawberry Hill. Strawberry Hill is set during the Depression, written in the style of depression textbooks. The ideals and tone of the book depict an earlier era which today’s readers may not identify with. Strawberry Hill may be a biography of sorts of Hoberman’s childhood. As the Children’s Poet Laureate, Hoberman should stick to her beloved poetry and picture books.

Home on the Range: John A. Lomax and His Cowboy Song

Hopkinson, Deborah. Home on the Range: John A. Lomax and His Cowboy Song. Schindler, S.D., Illustrator. The Penguin Group: G.P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN: 978-0-399-23996-0.

Home on the Range is a historical fiction account of a man who loved cowboys songs, decided to preserve them, and shared them with the world. The story tells Lomax's story through narrative, song and captivating illustrations that all capture the cowboy spirit and the essense of each setting. The story builds to a climax when Lomax records the famous cowboy song "Home on the Range" to share with the world. Reminesent of Snowflake Bentley and his story, Lomax shows how one man's passion can ignite intrege and passion in others. End notes discuss important points about fact, fiction and the research the author did. Read specifically for this blog because of the publication year, Home on the Range proved to be a delightful illustration of the importance of music to culture and the importance of individual contributions.

Listen to the Wind

Mortenson, G. and Roth, S. L. Listen to the Wind: The story of Dr. Gred and Three Cups of Tea. The Penguin Group: Dial Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 978-0-8037-3058-8.

In this beautifully illustrated and touchingly written book, Mortenson and Roth make the story of the New York Times Best Seller, Three Cups of Tea, accessible to young readers. Simply told and marvelously illustrated through collage, this book offers a picture of hope, of determination, and of how individuals can change our world for the better. A true account, this story gives perspective to readers and brings our ever shrinking world even closer in a highly relatable way. Notes about how individuals can make a difference and photographs of individuals impacting the children of Korphe leave the reader hopeful and inspired.